A small headline made its way to the newspaper today. Mian Nawaz Sharif admitted that the proxy policies that Pakistan pursued in Afghanistan during the 1990s were wrong and destructive for Afghanistan. He realizes that “’Our policy in the past has failed. Neither will such a policy work in future. We have a centuries-old relationship, and we can maintain this relationship only when we remain neutral and support the government elected there with the desire of the Afghan people.”
In between bleak and despondent atmosphere that comes from reading Pakistani news, we tend to forget our land is still governed by a working democracy, free press and free judiciary. While we never cease to malign the very leaders that we elect (and they do leave a lot to desire at times with their short sighted actions), we have two major parties that have worked together on charter of democracy, NFC accord, and are in general agreement against the scourge of religious based extremism that has morphed into a existential threat for Pakistan itself.
For the first sixty three years of our existence, we are still in the process of finding our footings. Our geographic location is a mixed blessing as we found ourselves right in the midst of the great conflict that raged between the Red Russia and the ascendant West. The Muslim nationalism that formed the basis of our existence did include our religion as one of the major influences. As the twentieth century rolled on and more Muslim countries gained independence from the colonial rules, Islam-as-a-political-system ideology started finding proponents in the Middle East and the Indian Sub Continent. Pakistan as a new state gained for Muslims fell progressively to the vague and undefined relationship that Muslim nationalism and Islamic theocracy engenders. In the absence of a prescient leadership, Pakistan never was able to segregate the role of religion from its political system. The confusion morphed into a full blown infection as decades rolled on.
By Nadeem F. Paracha
1. Asif Ali Zardari is the devil incarnate.
2. The Pakistan Army is the saviour.
3. The Taliban are resisting American imperialism.
4. We hate American foreign policy unless it suits us. We are against American imperialism if it means we have to ditch the Taliban as that would be against the aspirations of our founding father, Mohammed Bin Qasim. We will no longer shop at Marks and Spencer because they are somehow connected to Israel. However, that does not mean we will switch off our computers and cell phones whose chip technology has been made possible due to major contributions from Israeli scientists. Continue reading
Filed under Al Qaeda, Army, baluchistan, Benazir Bhutto, Democracy, FATA, Humour, India, Iran, Islam, Islamabad, Kerry Lugar Bill, Pakistan, Punjab, Punjabi, Religion, Taliban, USA, War On Terror, Writers, Yusuf Raza Gillani, Zardari
By SABRINA TAVERNISE, CARLOTTA GALL and ISMAIL KHAN
Published in The New York Times: April 29, 2010
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani military, long reluctant to heed American urging that it attack Pakistani militant groups in their main base in North Waziristan, is coming around to the idea that it must do so, in its own interests.
Western officials have long believed that North Waziristan is the single most important haven for militants with Al Qaeda and the Taliban fighting American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan has nurtured militant groups in the area for years in order to exert influence beyond its borders.
The developing shift in thinking — described in recent interviews with Western diplomats and Pakistani security officials — represents a significant change for Pakistan’s military, which has moved against Taliban militants who attack the Pakistani state, but largely left those fighting in Afghanistan alone.
Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, FATA, India, Islamabad, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, War On Terror
Dedicated to Hameed Gul and Nadeem Farooq Paracha
By Raza Habib Raja
The political spectrum in our country is polarized between two extremes: patriotic conservatives and the liberals. Both these extremes are often in complete conflict and accuse the other of naivety and even fanaticism. While conspiracy theories of the rightwing are well known, I have seen that liberals are not at all far behind and churn out their own conspiracy theories in which they try to absolve the PPP government of everything under the sun. Following are the “pearls” of wisdom uttered by both sides.
The Patriotic Brigade
1. We are patriots and love our motherland like hell. We are macho and believe in jingoism. Our favorite terms are: Islam; nationalism; traitors; baigharat liberals; strategic location; CIA; Mosad; RAW; corruption; and independent judiciary. Of course those who do not agree with us are traitors or liberal fanatics.
2. Liberalism is an anti patriotic philosophy and has the sole aim of westernization and thus weakening of Pakistan.
3. The entire world is united against Pakistan because we have the nuclear arsenal for “peaceful” purposes. Although critics say that it is a crude copy of Chinese technology (which itself is of low quality) but since our engineers copied it therefore it is our pride. Continue reading
Pakistan has crossed a major milestone last week by achieving a historic consensus on the 18th Amendment with 105 clauses, additions and deletions to the Constitution. The distortions inserted by the military rule have been done away with. Political elites this time, however, have gone a step further and improved the state of provincial autonomy. Perhaps this is where a civilian negotiation and democratic politics of compromise has been most effective. Who would have thought a few years ago that this was achievable? There were many skeptics who thought that the amendments might not be approved. However, the ‘corrupt’ and ‘incompetent’ politicians have proved everyone wrong.
Leaving aside the discourse of corruption, the NRO, and a vociferous media campaign against the President, the achievements in the last one-year by all political parties have been tremendous. The Awami National Party, after its initial truce with the militants, has stayed the course and resisted Talibanisation by giving full support to the army operations against the militants. The PPP and PML-N, despite their rhetoric and political point-scoring, have worked together on the national finance commission award (NFC) and now on the implementation of the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that has become the basis for the amendments to become a reality.
The nay-sayers of democracy and the political process forget one fundamental fact: a federal structure cannot work without a robust political process. A start has been made through the recent successes after a decade of ‘controlled democracy’. However, despite the march towards the democratic ideal, there are clear and present dangers that democracy is as fragile as ever. Continue reading
Nawaz Sharif has dropped a bombshell on the country’s expectations with his news conference yesterday. It was a most thoughtless and insensitive step by Pakistan’s “most popular” politician. His party had agreed to the method of judges’ appointment and it was said that he had agreed to the re-naming of Pakhtunkhwa as well. So this is a major surprise. One had hoped that as the leader from the biggest province and country’s ethnic majority, he would have been more mindful of his responsibility. Nawaz Sharif is protecting General Zia’s legacy when he should have taken a lead in undoing it and thereby atoning for his sins. In doing so, he would have also dealt a crushing blow to the number one issue around which Pushtun Nationalists have mobilized. But it was not to be. This is a rather bleak moment in our already patchy history. -YLH
PRESS GALLERY: Sharifs unveil ‘Punjab Card’ to prolong zero-sum game
By Saeed Minhas
ISLAMABAD: With the Sharifs unveiling their ‘Punjab Card’, Maulana Diesel trying to get even with the government, ‘Bhai logs’ of Karachi going into a pensive mood and nationalists getting a hint coupled with the success of the Kiyani-Qureshi-led strategic dialogues in the US, an under-siege government is likely to find more bumpy roads ahead. Continue reading
High-level talks in February, billed by some as a failure, actually set the stage for progress.
WSJ Op-ed by Najam Sethi, 07 March 2010
On initial appearances, the first high-level bilateral talks between India and Pakistan since November 2008 weren’t a success. When the two foreign secretaries convened in New Delhi on Feb. 25, at times it was as if they were at different meetings. The Indians tried to focus on terrorism sponsored from within Pakistan, while the Pakistanis wanted a broader dialogue. In the end, there was no noteworthy result. But appearances in this case are deceiving. This meeting is likely to prove more successful than many expect.
That’s because interests on both sides are at last correctly aligned to give talks a shot at success. For India, it has been a matter of reaching several conclusions at the same time. First, New Delhi has failed to browbeat Islamabad into steps like cracking down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group responsible for the Nov. 2008 Mumbai attacks. Indian saber rattling alone hasn’t done the trick, just as in 2002 when India’s armed forces tried but failed to intimidate Pakistan into halting the flow of jihadis into the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. Continue reading
Filed under India, Pakistan